Tributes to Bruce Cameron
I had the privilege of first meeting Bruce in Durban in the early 1980s – he, a sympathetic journalist and me, a political activist.
In those difficult days he had both the courage and the enterprise to meet and understand the activists and the campaigns they were involved in. I have known him as a person who has exemplified the democratic ethos in his work – more particularly in the pioneering work he has done in shaping Personal Finance into a first-class publication which champions what is right and reflects the interests of the citizen. Consumers have benefited immensely from his courage, his incisive analysis and his commitment to the truth about financial products and financial practices.
This approach becomes even more valuable in the present context. The recent financial and economic crisis has thrown up many challenges and lessons, especially for financial journalism.
Financial markets, indeed all markets, depend for their efficient functioning on the availability of information that participants in those markets can trust. And journalism can be – and it is not a given that it is – one of the most effective platforms for disseminating such information. During his tenure as editor, Bruce Cameron built Personal Finance into a communicator that empowers South Africans to make informed financial decisions.
Minister of Finance
Warren Buffett said: “The smarter the journalists are, the better off society is. To a degree, people read the press to inform themselves – and the better the teacher, the better the student body.”
These words have proved to be true in the case of Bruce Cameron, who has made an invaluable contribution to the education of the providers and consumers of financial services. Having at times found itself at the sharp end of the sword that Bruce wielded in the interests of the protection of investors, the FSB has through the years benefited from his open and frank criticism. I believe that Bruce’s robust engagement on regulatory issues has added value to the development of financial services regulation in South Africa.
Executive officer: Financial Services Board
Long before the Financial Services Board (FSB) formally introduced the concept of Treating Customers Fairly, Bruce was the constant – often appropriately strident – voice reminding financial institutions that they have an ethical obligation to treat customers in a way that is fair and meets their reasonable expectations. Bruce’s litmus test was to ask CEOs whether they would want to see their own mothers treated in the way that their customers are – a test that still holds true today as we continue along the long and hard road to embedding a customer-centric culture in the financial services sector.
I truly believe that Bruce, through his weekly editorials, has been one of the biggest drivers of change in the sector. More than a few CEOs I know have half-joked that they can’t enjoy their weekend until they know that their company has not been the subject of complaints exposed in Personal Finance … a sure sign of a constant deterrent effect!
Deputy executive officer: FSB
Very seldom does a single individual make a contribution to society in a way that changes the entire dynamics in that sphere. Bruce has done this with his significant contribution to the area of personal finance.
Although personal finance has always been important to us, it was something that we never allowed to leave our homes. In addition to this, the financial services organisations were powerful and kept the key to the personal finance holy grail safely within their inner sanctums – and solely for their preserve. When Bruce was appointed editor of Personal Finance, he changed all of this. With his approach, personal finance became mainstream news. It is now an accepted topic for public consumption. He enabled this by simplifying complex concepts and putting them within the realms of everyday people. This has massively empowered individuals and enabled them to be more comfortable in their quest for financial independence.
However, no comment on Bruce would be complete without a mention of his acerbic pen. He has become renowned and feared for his relentless exposure of the inappropriate, whether it is single-handedly challenging malpractice within the industry, warning of scams, bringing unscrupulous advisers to book, or holding the regulators to account. Being fiercely protective of not only his readers but also the general public at large has won him the respect and admiration of all his readers.
Chairperson of acsis and chief executive of Old Mutual’s Wealth businesses
As you prepare to take a break from an enriching lifetime spent on the forefront of consumer advocacy in the financial services industry, this is an opportunity to reflect on the enormous difference that you have made to the financial services industry – the countless consumers whose lives have been indelibly touched by your proficient and respectable guidance on financial matters, as well as the many unscrupulous industry practices and practitioners you have helped expose.
Such is the imprint you have made on all stakeholders in the industry that, in boardrooms around the industry, countless decisions are being made by policymakers, regulators, product providers and practices – and around dinner tables – with high regard to what Bruce Cameron will make of such decisions.
Chief executive, Financial Planning Institute of Southern Africa
If I were asked to describe Bruce’s work over the years, I would confidently say he has tended to give of himself to his task with more than just journalistic industry; he has done so with literary nous, too – a convergence of two talents one rarely finds with today’s preference for scoop headlines.
Journalists across the various disciplines would do well to take a leaf out of Bruce’s book. First facts, then opinion, or none at all, because the reader can form his or her own opinion from true facts.
I am sure it is only those whose business is to profit by financial and accounting subterfuge who will celebrate Bruce’s retreat from the battlefield. Those of us who profit (figuratively and literally) by their getting caught will respect his decision with foreboding.
It takes a person of character and integrity to stay the course. Bruce has done just that, and for that I feel justified in taking liberties and inviting the nation to join me in addressing him henceforth as “Sir Bruce!” Charge your glasses, South Africa, and drink merrily to Sir Bruce!
Former Pension Funds Adjudicator
For consumers and investors in the financial field Bruce Cameron has been an ongoing source of information and advice. His insightful views were sometimes unfavourable to the industry and others, but his criticism was always worthy of consideration, even by those he targeted. He has been a good friend to my office, often writing on matters from our annual report and newsletters that were of interest to consumers.
Ombudsman for Long-term Insurance
Bruce’s extensive knowledge of the financial world and his sterling role in championing the cause and interests of pension fund members is an unmatched legacy that he leaves behind on his retirement.
Bruce is revered and respected in the business community and has been a source of inspiration and reliance, particularly by those who do not enjoy the luxury of the services of professional advice, guidance and assistance; and feared by those who dare to exploit the uninformed, disadvantaged or exploited stakeholders in the pension fund industry.
Attorney and curator of pension funds
Bruce Cameron, in his own inimitable way, has done more for consumer education and, importantly, consumer protection, in the personal finance space than any other individual or organisation in the past few decades. His knowledge is deep and wide, ranging from legislative framework and design, through to the practical implications of managing one’s financial affairs. By now he must also have a fair amount of legal expertise, having attracted the ire of many crooks and chancers over the years. He certainly has helped the consumer to sleep better at night.
Independent consultant, trustee & director
Bruce has pioneered financial consumer journalism in South Africa and we acknowledge his extensive contribution to personal finance media over the years. As representatives of the very industry that Bruce often pursued with his relentless passion, we have valued the many meaningful engagements that we had with him. While we did not always agree, our discussions and debates were always thought-provoking and aimed at creating a better outcome for the consumer.
Leon Campher, chief executive, and Peter Dempsey, deputy chief executive, of the Association for Savings & Investment SA
Bruce Cameron, a journalist of courage and integrity, your impact has been profound, and you will be remembered as:
* The defender and protector of the consumer, the pension fund and medical scheme member;
* The educator of all of us in the financial services environment;
* The scourge of, and greatly feared by, those who take advantage of the financially ill-educated and those who abuse positions of trust; and
* The trustworthy friend of those in the financial services environment who were honest, whose priority was the interests of the person in the street, and who tried to do what was right.
Bruce, it was a lonely place you occupied, and you might not have known how much good you did, how many you have helped, and how many were encouraged by your journalism, but we have been enriched by your example and by you as a person, and we will always be grateful for you.
Pension fund attorney
Bruce, I appreciate your thoughtful coverage of complex and relevant issues in financial matters and that whatever you write is about “good advice for everyday people”. Thank you for all you have given our society as a whole – for your professionalism, honesty, humility and hard work.
Ombud for Financial Services Providers
Bruce’s contribution to financial journalism has been immeasurable. He has an uncanny knack of getting to the crux of complicated financial matters, teasing out the pertinent facts and writing it up in such a way that the ordinary person can understand it with ease.
Bruce is a man of integrity, highly principled, objective and not easily fobbed off. No one is spared his slings and arrows. It will be extremely difficult to fill the very big shoes that Bruce is leaving.
Ombudsman for Banking Services
In my experience in financial services, Bruce Cameron has single-handedly played the biggest role of all journalists and consumer champions in South Africa to urge financial services companies to treat customers fairly and to bring down the cost of savings products. In fact, much of the current policy imperatives on these issues were initiated by Bruce. This is his legacy to all of us. Generations to come will have much to thank him for!
Executive: Group Marketing and Stakeholder Relations, PPS
Bruce Cameron played a significant role in raising awareness of the needs and rights of financial services consumers. We thank him particularly for his dedication to promoting consumer education as the basis for wise consumer decision-making. He has also played a strong role advocating the value of financial advice, and an integral role in promoting and sponsoring initiatives to improve the quality of advice and advisers in the industry.
Bruce held a mirror up to the financial industry and his perspective was always valuable. In fact, his opinions in his columns and in many private engagements fomented many fruitful internal debates on how to improve our customers’ overall experience. He leaves an influential editor’s position that will remain a legacy to his efforts.
General manager, Old Mutual Customer Engagement
We have always found Bruce to be a tough, but fair, adjudicator of whether we are remaining true to our commitment to act in the best interests of our clients. He built Personal Finance into the definitive voice on all matters related to the financial wellbeing of South Africa’s households.
Head of Personal Investments, Coronation
Bruce Cameron has established a unique position in South African financial journalism as the watchdog, spokesman and protector of the investment public.
He readily exposes poor investment products, shady practices and inappropriate advice. However, he also generously gives praise, if due, when the providers of financial products deliver good value and enhance the savings potential and retirement aspirations of the man on the street. Long may he continue to do so.
Managing director, etfSA.co.za
Bruce has done a tremendous job over the years in educating the average man in the street on all aspects of personal finance. He has played a pivotal role in empowering people to make better use of their most important asset – money. He has given advice that is always well researched and impartial, with his ultimate aim being to protect and educate his readers.
In the old Association of Collective Investments we always welcomed his feedback and advice. His cause was to ultimately help the collective investment industry be more transparent and fair to investors, and he provided great value in this.
While Bruce has built up a solid and loyal following, his bold, upfront approach of highlighting the ills of the industry did not sit well with some. However, he has been invaluable in helping to lift standards of how the industry needs to deal with the average person in the street, who is too often dealt a disservice by the industry.
Chief operating officer, Stanlib Retail, and ex-chairman of the Association of Collective Investments
The ability to retire with dignity should be one of the most important goals in life. Amazingly, planning for it is something that is neglected by most of us. Part of the reason for this is that the financial services industry is an enigma to so many of us. For the average person, financial markets, products and jargon are not only complicated but also downright intimidating. As a result, many people tend to avoid financial advice or products until the fear of future financial difficulty starts becoming apparent, by which time it is, more often than not, already too late.
Coupled with this, a handful of unscrupulous operators has tarnished the reputation of the entire financial services industry.
It is in attempting to change this unfortunate reality that Bruce Cameron has dedicated the past 17 years of his life at the helm of Personal Finance. His relentless determination is not only evident in the success he has achieved in educating investors to invest appropriately, but in ensuring that the financial services industry does the right thing for their clients. Thanks to his contribution, a great deal more South Africans will enjoy a dignified and happy retirement.
Hendrik du Toit
Chief executive, Investec Asset Management
Question 1: Did the launch of Personal Finance in 1996 herald a new era in personal finance journalism?
Question 2: If so, why?
Question 3: If not, why not?
Question 4: Please explain your answers, before noon on Friday.
Answer 1: Yes.
Answer 2: Bruce Cameron has a passion to educate and empower ordinary consumers on personal finance issues.
Answer 3: Not applicable.
Answer 4: Bruce has won multiple category awards in the annual Sanlam Financial Journalist of the Year competition and in numerous other financial journalist competitions since 1996. We salute him as a journalist and an editor and a consumer champion.
Hennie de Villiers
Chief executive, Sanlam Individual Life
We established the Raging Bull Awards more than 17 years ago, and many awards have been given over the years. However, there is ultimately only one Raging Bull and that is Bruce Cameron – a five-PlexCrown journalist unlike any other! Sure, he is uncompromising, but he is always honest in his pursuit of a better deal for the little guy.
Prieur du Plessis
Chairman, Plexus Holdings
The Profile Group has worked with Bruce over a number of years on various projects and supplies Personal Finance with financial data weekly. His brainchild, the Raging Bull Awards, has become a calendar event with which we are proud to be associated. Its main purpose is to reward those institutions that manage the fortunes of many investors.
Bruce has set a high standard of financial journalism at Personal Finance and the fact that he will take up a position as associate editor means that he will continue the good work, albeit in a lesser capacity.
Managing director, Profile Group
We have valued our interactions with Bruce over many years. He really championed the position of the consumer and always fought hard for their interests, particularly so against any “abuses” which he perceived. While he often gave the industry players a “hard time”, he was understanding of our position where our actions and intent were sincere. We wish him well in his retirement.
Chief executive, Santam
Bruce has been an unflagging champion of investors since the launch of Personal Finance. His insightful and educational reporting has informed and enlightened both financial advisers and investors, highlighting important issues that may otherwise have been overlooked.
Chief operating officer, Allan Gray
Bruce has always set exceptionally high standards for Personal Finance, ensuring at all times that he and his team are highly qualified, skilled and professional; and that the publication they collectively produce is a leader in its field. It has always been clear that Bruce, and by extension, Personal Finance, serve their readers first. And in doing so, Bruce has been a fearless champion of the rights of consumers. He has never held back in demanding answers, calling stakeholders to account, applauding those who serve consumers and publically admonishing those who have failed them.
It is these same qualities that have forged my respect and admiration for Bruce over the many years that I have worked with him. At times a tad grumpy, most often exceptionally witty – and always brutally honest! Thank you for your immense contribution to the South African financial services industry.
Executive director, BrightRock and Segment Solutions
When I joined Alexander Forbes more than three years ago, I was impressed with Bruce’s passion to fight for consumers in general and pensioners in particular. Through his reporting, I believe he has contributed to greater transparency and accountability in the retirement and employee benefits sector in particular and the financial services industry in general. While I am sad that he is retiring, I am nevertheless thrilled to know that he will still continue to be involved in the development of Personal Finance as an associate editor.
Bruce is an inspiration to aspiring financial journalists, and I hope he will be available to impart his knowledge and skills to young and upcoming writers, so that they too are able to impact positively on the lives of people.
Group chief executive, Alexander Forbes
Bruce Cameron has a deserved reputation for excellence and courage in journalism. His 17 years of editing Personal Finance have been marked by one success after another – the product has shown ongoing growth in readership and profitability, and his office is bursting with awards.
The greatest tribute to Bruce is probably the large number of people who have been helped by his work in one way or another. His passion in this regard has played a strong role in simplifying the complex issues that surround personal finance matters, and he has highlighted the many pitfalls that his dedicated readers needed to be aware of when dealing with their personal finances.
Supporting readers was also very important to Bruce. Only this week,he helped a woman to recoverpension money due to her from a divorce settlement.
Testimony to Bruce’s courage stands in the many powerful men or women who have been exposed by his journalism and whose attempts to intimidate him came to nothing.
Those of us who have worked with Bruce, know him for considerably more than his journalism. As an editorial manager, Bruce had an absolute commitment to the product and to the people who worked with him on it.
In addition, he has always been willing to give his time to colleagues who may not have been as adept with their finances as Bruce obviously is. This manifested itself most obviously in his role as a trustee of the company’s pension funds, where Bruce and I interacted often and where he stood out as being both caring and committed to the members and focused on the funds’ adherence to the highest levels of good governance.
And beyond the professional environment, Bruce has also been more than a colleague: he is a man of great warmth, wit and insight.
We are delighted that Bruce will remain involved and continue writing for the paper. He will also remain as an independent trustee of the company’s retirement funds. We wish him well as he begins to enjoy his well-earned wind down into retirement.
Chief executive officer, Independent Newspapers
I have learnt a great deal from Bruce Cameron over the years. His integrity has always been beyond reproach, and he has the rare ability to see beyond the institution and recognise the intent of the individuals behind the institution. Bruce would probably be unaware of the extent to which he has shaped our approach and the thinking at Discovery through his continuous challenging of the industry and us as a company on issues of importance to our clients and consumers in general. He has at times been our harshest critic, but our interests have always inevitably converged in helping to ensure consumers make informed decisions around their financial well-being. The respect that Bruce commands and the relationships established in the financial services industry are testament to the passion, integrity and insight that Bruce has brought to bear over the many years he has been at the helm of Personal Finance. His legacy is a publication that is seen as an institution in the industry.
Chief executive officer, Discovery
Bruce Cameron has made a notable contribution to increasing the financial understanding of consumers all around South Africa. His articles have made our industry more accessible giving consumers information that they can use to make informed decisions about their finances. As a journalist and writer he will be greatly missed. We wish him an enjoyable retirement and success in all his future endeavours.
Communications manager, on behalf of Liberty
Bruce Cameron has been the conscience of the financial services industry for a very long time. His contribution to its reform and development, educating consumers and making the industry accessible and more accountable to the man on the street, is unquestionable and this will be his legacy. We laud him for his relentless determination in getting to the bottom of a story and certainly keeping all of us on our toes throughout the years. MMI, on behalf of Metropolitan and Momentum, is grateful for his contribution and hopes that up-and-coming financial services journalists will learn from him and help to fill the gap that he will surely leave.
Group executive, corporate affairs, MMI Holdings
I will always remember Bruce, as editor of Personal Finance and journalist, for his unashamedly and passionate battles for justice, fairness and transparency in the financial services industry. Under his leadership Personal Finance became the most respected publication in so far as the financial education of consumers and the protection of their hard-earned savings are concerned. His passion and dedication have undoubtedly rubbed off on his team to such an extent that it will ensure continuous financial reporting excellence by Personal Finance.
Ryk de Klerk
Managing director, PlexCrown Fund Ratings
Years ago I worked for an editor who used to recruit people on this basis: “If journalism was war, which reporter would you most like to have on your side?” If I was asked the same question today, my answer would be: “Bruce Cameron!”
Bruce is the journalist’s journalist – fearless, principled and dogged. The fact that he is regarded in the financial services sector with both respect and some fear is testimony to those attributes. He is respected because of his knowledge and the influence for good he has had on the sector during his long career. He is feared by the rogues who take advantage of vulnerable people in society.
In essence, he has been driven by the interests of the consumer, and there is no journalistic motive finer than that.
Editor-in-chief: Independent Newspapers, Western Cape